Comptroller reports on Bellona Fire District audit

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

The New York State Comptroller’s office has released a report on the Division of Local Government and School Accountability’s examination of the  Bellona Fire District’s board oversight.

According to the report, which was released on April 14, the fire district’s board did not properly oversee the district’s financial operations.

The report states that the board did not adequately monitor the district treasurer, to ensure he was completing his duties.

The report noted that the treasurer did not file an annual report as required by New York State law for the past eight years. “Without the board’s adequate  oversight, the risk is increased that errors or irregularities could occur without detection or correction,” said the report.

The treasurer stated he had not filed an annual report with the Town of Benton Clerk since 2001 due to difficulties encountered when attempting to file the report electronically in 2002.

He admitted he did not seek assistance to file the reports, and there was no action by the board.

In the board’s response to the Comtroller’s report, Thomas R. Davie Sr. said the treasurer has each year attempted to file the financial report electronically, but due to limitations in the state’s financial reporting system, the treasurer was unable to do so.

The Bellona Fire District is governed by five elected fire commissioners. Not all fire departments operate as a fire district, which is a district corporation of the state, distinct and separate from the Town of Benton, in which it is located.

The district’s budget for the 2010 fiscal year totaled $58,835.

The auditors reviewed the period from Jan. 1, 2009 to Oct. 12, 2010, but examined monthly bank statements back to Jan. 1, 2005.

Comptroller’s office staff reviewed the district’s annual budgets and the treasurer’s financial records and verified that all cash receipt transactions totalling $160,839 and disbursements totaling $151,314 were properly recorded and reported.

The Comptroller’s report can be found here .